Tag Archives: Dalits

Sewer Workers Deaths – The Meaning of Dalit for Bhartiya Janta Party

Guest post by PRAVEEN VERMA

If Prime Minister Narendra Modi were to write about the recent deaths of sewer workers in India, the headline would be:

Some people attained moksha (nirvana) while experiencing spirituality,

Protest against deaths in sewers, photo courtesy The Hindu

In his casteist book Karmayog, he wrote that manual scavenging is a spiritual experience, hence if some people die during cleaning sewers manually, that would be attaining moksha! In a caste Hindu society this should have been a matter of joy, that even in Kaliyuga, there are still some ‘pious’ soul who could give up all moh-maya and do this punya karma! How true this depiction/ description, one feels like saying: why not make the umpteen godmen-led spiritual movements in India take this route to spiritual moksha? This would perhaps have saved the many rapist-rioter babas from arrest and they could truly do their prayaschit (atonement) in these various, very Indian jails. This is after all the real world of this ‘spiritual experience’ of manual scavenging/sewer cleaning, where ‘Moksha’ means institutional killing!

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Statement on Atrocities on Dalits : New Socialist Initiative

Guest Post by New Socialist Initiative

New Socialist Initiative Condemns Hindutva Engineered and Inspired Atrocities on Dalits

Hardly a day passes without headline news of some or another atrocity on Dalits. On 24 May, a Dalit man in the Ahmedabad district was beaten and his house attacked by a gang of socalled ‘upper’ caste men after he had attached Sinh to his name on his facebook post.  On 21 May a dalit ragpicker was beaten to death in a Rajkot factory. Atrocities on Dalits are occurring in the midst of a public ideological environment against them. On 26 May news came of a private school in Delhi asking 8th class students to write a note on how reservations help undeserving and unqualified people for their summer vacation homework.  According to National Crime Record Bureau reports for recent years, between 10 to 15 thousand cases of crimes are reported under the Prevention of Atrocities act every year; an average of 35 crimes per day. Many times more crimes actually go unreported. In 2016 Indian courts had over 45 thousand cases under this act. Out of the 4048 cases decided, conviction occurred in 659 cases only. That is, five out of six cases of atrocity against Dalits did not result in any punishment. The number of attacks against one of the weakest and the poorest sections of the society, and the abysmal rate of conviction would put any civilized society to shame, but India chugs along. Continue reading Statement on Atrocities on Dalits : New Socialist Initiative

Photo Story on Bhim Army Rally in Delhi: Debalin Roy

Guest post by DEBALIN ROY

Debalin Roy takes us to some specific moments in the rally, aside from the bird’s eye view of the massive rally that we have already seen.

Dalits from all over northern India gathered at Jantar Mantar, Delhi on the 21st of May to protest the Saharanpur violence and increasing atrocities on Dalits across the country.

Although there were representatives from various states, especially from Haryana, U.P. and Rajasthan, Bhim Army took the center stage, with their blue flags waving like a giant dark blue field of tall grass, shaking and waving with every chant of Jai Bhim.

Continue reading Photo Story on Bhim Army Rally in Delhi: Debalin Roy

Ambedkar and the Environmental Tradition

The 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar was celebrated in April 2016 all around, so much so that the United Nations, for the first time, observed this day with a focus on achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we know, the 17 goals along with 169 targets and 304 indicators, adopted in September 2015, aspire to transform our world by balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. The ‘plan of action for people, planet and prosperity’ has environment at its core, along with poverty and inequality: to ‘protect planet’, create ‘healthy environment’, and ensure equality, dignity and development ‘in harmony with nature’. And Ambedkar is found in this regard to be an apt and inspiring leader.

The world can see traces of Ambedkar’s vision in the SDGs and can find his views relevant for environmental sustainability, but not the Indian environmentalists! Indian environmental movements marginalize Ambedkar. From a historical past, environmental scholars have placed Gandhi at the apex of their inspiration. Recently, Nehru and Indira Gandhi too have been constructed through an ecological lens. However, Ambedkar’s engagement with the environmental question has been relatively unexplored, even when his thoughts and interventions on nature, village, land, agriculture, water, community, industry, technology and science are some of the enduring issues of India’s environmental and political traditions. In comparison with Gandhi, credited with having an intuitive critique of modern civilization, Ambedkar has often been criticized for his modernization vision, which it is argued, drew heavily on the west for inspiration (Nagaraj 2010: 56-7)

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Cow-Gangs of Akhand Bharat and the Dalit Revolt – Hindutva Unravels

As the cow-gangs of Hindutva go on a rampage and the the prime minister, Narendra Modi, adopts a posture of strategic silence, the country is rapidly being pushed to the brink of a civil war. This might sound a trifle far-fetched but classically, when large numbers of people begin to believe that there is no government for them, the time is not far when they will start making preparations for defending themselves. It started with the attacks on Muslims but soon enveloped the Dalits as it was bound to. The Una incident, which sparked off a veritable revolt, was followed up by subsequent attacks in Lucknow. The Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association in Punjab, involving large number of Sikh farmers, has also been fighting continuing harassment and violence by cow-gangs of Hindutva in Punjab for some time now. The PDFA president has also stated that they might be forced to act in self-defense. The president Daljit Singh Gill, in fact, reportedly told mediapersons that “(I)f someone attacks the farmers, we will stop them now,” and “(I)f something goes wrong, it is the government’s responsibility.”

Even as the cow-gangs continue with their vigilantism unrestrained and unchecked, a large demonstration yesterday at Jantar Mantar by Samta Sainik Dal, actually sent out yet another signal. It spokespersons said in so many words that they were now prepared to take on the cow-gangs physically, if and where necessary.

Tracing SSD’s lineage back to Dr Ambedkar’s initiative in the 1924, the President of the organization openly blamed the ‘Manuvadi’ forces, in cahoots with the police and bureaucracy, backed by the government. He was candid that it is not the Sikhs or Muslims or Christians who are attacking the Dalits today but the Hindus who are doing it in the name of nationalism and that people were now in a mood to fight back unitedly together.

Not only is Modi’s deafening silence now coming to be seen as a sign of encouragement and complicity, with BJP leaders like Hyderabad MLA Raja Singh openly justifying the Una attack, and no action being taken against him by the party yet, it is clear that this vigilantism is endorsed by the highest quarters in the party. For those who may have missed seeing Raja Singh’s video, this is what he said:

“Jo Dalit gaye ke maas ko le ja raha tha, jo uski pitai hui hai, woh bohut hi achhi hui hai (Those Dalits who were taking the cow, the cow meat, those who were beaten, it was a very good thing to happen).

Continue reading Cow-Gangs of Akhand Bharat and the Dalit Revolt – Hindutva Unravels

Cow Vigilantism as Terror : New Socialist Initiative

Guest Post by  New Socialist Initiative

Can the Saffron Establishment ever wash its hands of the growing menace?

(For Hindi version, click the link http://nsi-delhi.blogspot.in/2016/07/blog-post_26.html)

( Courtesy : Cartoonist Satish Acharya, https://www.facebook.com/cartoonistsatishacharya/)

Cow vigilantism which has received tremendous boost since the ascendance of BJP at the centre got its first fitting reply in Gujarat recently. The way in which a self-proclaimed Gau Rakshak Dal – owing allegiance to Shiv Sena – attacked a group of Dalits in Una (11 th July 2016) who were skinning a dead cow, publicly flogged them, led them to the police station charging them with cow slaughter and even circulated a video of the whole incident on social media to spread further terror, has caused tremendous uproar. Continue reading Cow Vigilantism as Terror : New Socialist Initiative

Slow violence and the Spectacle – Dispossession, segregation, and the Chennai Floods: Priti Narayan

Guest post by PRITI NARAYAN

[This article is followed by a detailed survey report on the losses sustained by people during the Chennai floods, which can be read here.]

“How, in an age that venerates the instant and the spectacular, can one turn attritional calamities starring nobody into stories dramatic enough to rouse public sentiment,” asks scholar Rob Nixon, in his discussion of Rachel Carson’s seminal 1962 book Silent Spring. It is a question worth asking now, in the aftermath of the floods in Chennai.

The floods were spectacular, the initial neglect by the national Indian media notwithstanding. Enough has been written about both about the floods themselves, and the spectacle of thousands of Chennai residents pouring onto the streets and into the water to undertake rescue, relief and rehabilitation work. Now that the spectacle is fading and the celebration of the city’s spirit is dying down, perhaps we can examine the floods more objectively. Not that the deluge has not deserved the attention it has received – reports estimate that over 400 lives have been claimed, and anywhere between 1.8 to 2 million people have been displaced.

But we do not talk as much about the “attritional calamity” that involves the dispossession of the poor of their land  and their subsequent displacement to the peripheries of the city.The lack of affordable housing stock has historically led the poor to occupy land in the central city, from where they access livelihood and educational opportunities. Their location in the city has enabled them to contribute invaluable labour and services to the city’s economy. Off late however, development projects are putting immense pressure on land in the Indian city. Strategies to make a world class city –“beautification”, “development” and “eco-restoration” – envision no place for the poor in Chennai.Transparent Cities Network estimates that at least 1,50,000people from 63 slums have been displaced for development projects over the course of the last 15 years. Not all those displaced have been rehabilitated: at least 22,000 people have been left homeless. There are no estimates of the number of people who have died during displacement or after resettlement, but the instances of crime(including trafficking, prostitution, and mafia-style murders) and suicides in these government-created ghettoes tell a sordid tale. Continue reading Slow violence and the Spectacle – Dispossession, segregation, and the Chennai Floods: Priti Narayan